Indiana State University President Deborah Curtis says the $8 million gift from Steve and Gloria Bailey will benefit programs that will help students meet the needs of employers, particularly in the STEM fields. ISU on Friday announced the gift, which is the largest individual donation in the school’s 157-year history, after the board of trustees approved the naming of the Bailey College of Engineering and Technology (BCET). “It breathes a little life into some programs that have really needed some external support,” said Curtis.
Curtis told Inside INdiana Business Host Gerry Dick she aims to boost enrollment by providing assistance to potential students through the gift.
“We’ve got to get some of that population back to going to college that stopped out when the pandemic took place, and we see that a lot at Indiana State because we serve so many low-income and first-generation college goers,” said Curtis. “So, we really believe this gift is going to allow us to push out that information to Hoosiers all over the state to say, ‘Not only, yes, can you, this is the place to go, and you are going to find your spot in moving the state of Indiana’s economy forward.”
The gift creates three funds for the College of Engineering and Technology, which Curtis says touches every piece of the programs within the college.
The first will establish the Bailey College of Engineering and Technology Scholars for incoming freshmen who major in a program within the college, providing $3,000 in scholarships that are renewable for up to two years.
“There are two many young people in Indiana who think, ‘I cannot afford to go to college.’ And that’s a statewide initiative that we all need to all be pushing on right now,” said Curtis. “This gift is going to say, ‘Yes you can, and Indiana State is the place you should do that.’”
The university says it will offer 50 scholarships in its inaugural year beginning in the fall of 2023.
The second fund will be the Bailey Faculty Fellowship Fund, which will provide a $10,000 award to five faculty members to support activities including research and conferences. The fellowships will be renewable for up to three years.
“This will allow us to not only be able to attract and retain those faculty, but also provide them with some funding to do the things they need to do…that pushes our name out there and moves the field forward,” Curtis said.
ISU is currently searching for a new dean for the college, and the third fund is designed to support that person. A total of $50,000 will create the Dean’s Fund of Excellence for three years to assist the dean with new industry partnerships, expanding existing partnerships, and recruiting students.
“What better environment for a new, go-getter dean to come into where you have your college being named and there’s a fund specifically for that dean to use to say, ‘I can push some dollars that initiative’ just in time, not having to wait for a budget cycle or something like that,” said Curtis.
Curtis says the benefits of the gift will continue the university’s efforts to align itself with the workforce needs of the state.
“Our goal in making sure that [students] go out and find the profession that they’ve prepared for…is to be able to say these graduates have learned on 21st century equipment in 21st century laboratories with world-class, state-of-the-art faculty, and it’s going to contribute to the economy of the state of Indiana.”
Steve Bailey is a 1971 graduate of ISU where he earned a degree in automotive technology. He became CEO of Speedway-based Diesel USA Group until his retirement in 2019. He also serves on the College of Technology Dean’s Advisory Council and the ISU Foundation Board of Directors.
“Gloria and I are so impressed with the direction of Indiana State under President Curtis’ leadership,” Steve Bailey said in written remarks. “We have seen firsthand the great work being done to provide first-generation college students with a high-quality education through mentorship, curriculum, and experiential learning. We feel passionately that the three prongs in this gift—the student scholarships, the faculty fellowships and the dean’s fund—will positively impact the lives of engineering and technology students for years to come.”
Gloria Bailey worked in interior design and human resources before her retirement in 2014. In 2020, she helped interior architectural design students at ISU redesign and furnish the atrium in the John T. Myers Technology Center.